Two-time English UBBF champion Seamus Devlin’s first ever step on the promotional ladder in the bare knuckle boxing industry will be a historic one.
Never before has an event in the United Kingdom staged a female BKB title contest. Until now. When Ella Mac and Sara Smith headline the 11-fight show at Colne Muni on Saturday, it will be the third bout of its kind worldwide.
The 30-year-old is looking to make waves on his inaugural voyage by bucking the trend set by the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) in America.
The Philadelphia-based promotion held the first official state sanctioned and commissioned bare-knuckle boxing event in the US in 120 years last summer.
The self-styled “Queen of bare-knuckle boxing”, Bec Rawlings, went in to the record books when becoming the Featherweight Bare Knuckle Police Gazette Diamond World champion with victory over Alma Garcia on that show in Wyoming.
Christine Ferea followed suit earlier this year when scoring a technical stoppage win over Britain Hart for the Police Gazette American Women’s Featherweight Bare Knuckle Championship at BKFC 5.
“I can’t wait, though I’m really nervous,” said Devlin, who has got the WBFB on board to sanction all future shows.
“Everything is in place, I’ve put my hand in my own pocket to fund this event, it’s cost me quite a lot, but money is not my motivation.
“There is a lot of heat behind the women’s fight. It’s for the English featherweight title between Ella Mac and Sara Smith.
“It’s going to be the first contest of its kind in the UK. Hopefully I’m starting off the trend over here and bringing the women’s game to fruition.
“It’s only the third ever women’s BKB title fight in the world so we’re making history. It’s massive.
“It’s a nerve-racking one for me because bare knuckle boxing is still a grey area for people.
“I want to be an advocate for the sport and attract people to it by making sure it’s done properly.”
This represents more than just a spectacle for Seamus, who reigned at 77kg in the UBBF (United British Boxing Federation).
The former St Augustine’s RC High School pupil, who has lived in Padiham for most of his life, will complete his transition from pugilist to promoter on the night.
He takes on Mikey McGowan in a light-middleweight BKB battle, where he believes his dreams of being crowned English champion will come true.
“It’s for the English bare knuckle title and this is my dream,” said Devlin. “This is what I got in to it for and once I’ve achieved this my dream is complete. It’s a big night for me in many respects.”
Former British, Commonwealth and World Super Featherweight boxing champion Charles Shepherd will also be in attendance, alongside Muay Thai supremo Andy Bakewell, who is one of the main men behind the masterpiece.
Shepherd, born in Burnley before moving to Cumbria as a teenager, saw his big payday against Prince Naseem Hamed fall through shortly after landing the IBO belt against American Tom Johnson.
Devlin said: “Charles Shepherd is coming to support the show and that’s the cherry on top for me. It completes the show.
“I’ve put everything in to this. I’ve been living and breathing it; I’m marinating in it day and night. Every day has been productive and it’s kept my over-active brain busy.
“It’s my first step on the promotional ladder. I’m still learning but I’ve been around the game for a while and I’ve travelled about. I know the fabric and the structure of the sport.
“This show is truly changing peoples’ lives. Fighters are training hard and looking after themselves, it’s giving them a sense of purpose, and it’s helping them turn their lives around. It’s quite a strange paradox given its reputation of being a violent sport.”
Also on the card, which includes six gloved contests, four bare knuckle bouts and one extreme boxing exhibition, Brummie Ash D v Thomas Murray, Scott Horsfall v Patrick Blight, Paddy Devlin v Marley Tomlinson, Sam Robson v Brent Doney, Harvey Wallbanger v Ady Rampling, Brendan Collins v Kyle Richardson, Aaron Horsfall v Will Cairns, Shaun Horsfall v Curtis Leadbetter, Corey Harrison v Tom Leadbetter and Daz Simpson v Paul Walker.